What women should know about Ageing

Ageing is an accumulation of changes to the body over time and which we have no control. Women who are open minded will find ways to cope with ageing whilst others may prefer to ignore and suffer in silence.

Recently, I have the opportunity to meet Dr Sunita Kaur who specialises in Anti-ageing and Regenerative medicine. She has been helping patients with a number of treatments including hormone replacement and cell therapy. Our conversations centred around physical, mental and emotional changes and what women can expect in ageing.

1. Fatigue

As we get older endurance can decline, many may notice their energy levels aren’t as high as they once were. Some found an afternoon naps become a routine to enjoy the rest of the day. When you are not getting enough sleep, it is also natural that you feel tired.

Please beware that ongoing fatigue is not a natural part of ageing. If you feel tired for weeks at a time and don’t feel refreshed after a good night’s sleep, it may be time to visit your doctor to get to the root of the cause.

2. Insomnia

There are several causes of sleep problems and one of them is restless leg syndrome, a condition characterised by a nearly irresistible urge to move the legs.

Another is sleep apnea, in which the affected person has paused or shallow breathing while sleeping; this is not unusual with older adults.

People with overactive bladders and enlarged prostates can wake multiple times a night to use the bathroom, which also disturbs sleep.

3. Knee Pain

As you’ve gotten older, your knees may have started to hurt. Knee pain can result from an overuse injury in which you damage a muscle, tendon, or ligament, or a sudden accident.

Chronic knee pain as you get older is usually the result of osteoarthritis. Your menisci – tough, fibrous tissues that lie between the knee bones and prevent direct bone-on-bone contact – get thinner, more brittle, and can tear more easily as you age.

Your articular cartilage, which protects the kneecap, can experience the same deterioration. Your cartilage can eventually disappear, resulting in excruciating bone-on-bone pain that requires orthopaedic surgery – knee replacement surgery. 

4. Skin Changes In Ageing

  • With ageing, the outer skin layer (epidermis) thins, even though the number of cell layers remains unchanged.
  • The number of pigment-containing cells (melanocytes) decreases. The remaining melanocytes increase in size. Ageing skin looks thinner, paler, and clear (translucent). Pigmented spots including age spots or “liver spots” may appear in sun-exposed areas. The medical term for these areas is lentigos.
  • Changes in the connective tissue reduce the skin’s strength and elasticity. This is known as elastosis. It is more noticeable in sun-exposed areas (solar elastosis). Elastosis produces the leathery, weather-beaten appearance common to farmers, sailors, and others who spend a large amount of time outdoors.
  • The blood vessels of the dermis become more fragile. This leads to bruising, bleeding under the skin (often called senile purpura), and cherry angiomas.
  • Sebaceous glands produce less oil as you age. Men experience a minimal decrease, most often after the age of 80. Women gradually produce less oil beginning after menopause. This can make it harder to keep the skin moist, resulting in dryness and itchiness.
  • The subcutaneous fat layer thins so it has less insulation and padding. This increases your risk of skin injury and reduces your ability to maintain body temperature. Because you have less natural insulation, you can get hypothermia in cold weather.
  • The sweat glands produce less sweat. This makes it harder to keep cool. Your risk for overheating or developing heat stroke increases.
  • Growths such as skin tags, warts, brown rough patches (seborrheic keratoses), and other blemishes are more common in older people. Also common are pinkish rough patches (actinic keratosis) which have a small chance of becoming a skin cancer. Skin cancers are also common and usually located in sun-exposed areas.

It may look gloomy but there are treatments available to help you rejuvenate your skin.

5. Dry Eyes

Tear glands in older eyes might not work as well as they used to. You might feel like you’ve got specks of sand in your eyes. Or they may sting. Dry eyes can be a normal part of aging. Certain medical conditions can bring them on, too.

Eye diseases such as cataract and glaucoma can cause vision loss and blindness. The symptoms can start so slowly that you may not notice them. Regular visit to eye specialist could help prevent further deterioration of eyesight in the elderly.

6. Grey Hair

Hair substantially greys in about 50% of persons by age 50, apparently because of the loss of melanocytes. Typically, the hair does not turn grey all at once but initially has a mix of black and grey hairs (“salt and pepper” hair) 

With ageing, stem cells in the hair follicles stop making new melanocytes. Since there are no more melanocytes to create melanin, the hair turns grey. Studies have shown that the follicles in young adults have a high number of immature melanocytes, while those in middle-aged persons have fewer immature melanocytes. In the elderly, the follicles have no immature melanocytes.

7. Stress Incontinence

Many older adults suffer from urinary incontinence and stress incontinence. 

Stress incontinence also popularly known as “Sneeze & Drip” occurs when urine leaks as pressure is put on the bladder, such sneezing, laughing, coughing, during exercise, or lifting heavy objects.

While it can happen to anyone, urinary incontinence, also known as overactive bladder, is more common in older people, especially women.

Bladder control issues can be embarrassing and cause people to avoid their normal activities.

8. Weight Gain

It common knowledge that when we all love food. When we consume food without burning the calories we put on weight. The slowing down of the digestive system in ageing can add weight and the risk of obesity is apparent. On the other hand when you decrease activities as you age, but continue to eat the same as usual, you will gain weight too. To maintain a healthy weight, stay active and eat healthy.

What you can do:
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine. Regular moderate physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fibre foods and lean sources of protein, such as fish. Limit sugar and foods high in saturated fat.
  • Watch your portion sizes. To cut calories, keep an eye on your portion sizes.

9. Constipation

Constipation is a common problem that almost everyone has faced at least once in their lifetime. Constipation happens out of the blue and happens for multiple reasons – be it due to the lifestyle choices, food, and diet, or the type of medications taken, bowel movements may be affected. It is usually an uncomfortable experience, where you will have difficulties passing out stools and have infrequent visits to the toilet.

Needless to say, older adults who are physically less active and reliant on medications are more prone to contracting constipation.

Useful Home Remedies To Relieve Constipation
  • Increase Your Fiber Intake – Adding more fiber into your diet has been said to increase the weight and consistency of bowel stools while softening them, making them easier to be passed out. Fibers also help to solidify watery stools due to the absorption of water, resulting in a healthier bowel movement.
  • Exercise Regularly – Studies have reported that a sedentary lifestyle leads to higher risks of constipation while exercising helps to regulate bowel movements. For a starter, try going for regular walks or light jogs to stimulate muscles in the intestines and colons.
  • Drink Plenty of Water – Dehydration is one of the common causes of constipation, as the lack of water in the intestines results in hard and dry stools that cannot be easily passed out. The good old saying still remains: drink a minimum of eight glasses of water daily so you don’t get constipation problems.
  • Try an Abdominal Massage – An abdominal massage is effective in relieving constipation by stimulating muscle contractions. As a home remedy, it can result in having higher frequencies of bowel movements and relieving discomfort in the body when done frequently.
  • Try Coffee or Ginger Tea – Drinking coffee increases your visits to the bathroom as the caffeine present helps to stimulate muscles in the gut. Alternatively, ginger tea is another beverage that has been effective in stimulating digestion, offering relief for constipation. It generates heat in the body and has mild laxative effects which promote bowel movement and activity to speed up the process.

10. Your sexuality

With age, sexual needs and performance might change. Illness or medication might affect your ability to enjoy sex. For women with menopause, vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable. Don’t be despair, treatment to ease the menopause discomforts are available today.

We should be more understanding for men as well. Men are prone to impotence or erectile dysfunction which might take them longer to get an erection, and the erections might not be as firm as they used to be. Encouragement to seek treatment is important for satisfying relationship.

11. Empty Nest Syndrome 

Empty nest syndrome involves feelings of sadness, depression, loneliness, and grief endured by parents after their kids leave home and begin taking care of themselves. It is a psychological condition that affects many elderly parents.  

Overcoming empty nest syndrome can be done by staying busy, keeping in touch with your children, reviving the romance, and by planning a vacation or trip. 

Positive Ageing

It is a fact that you can’t stop the ageing process. However you can make choices that improve your ability to maintain an active life, to do the things you enjoy, and to spend time with loved ones.

More information on our Anti-ageing treatment or to schedule an appointment with our specialist please contact Passage Asia.

Published by Sister Kay McNaught

Sister Kay McNaught, NHS graduate is well sought after Destination Medical Tourism Consultant and International Patient Care Advisor in Kuala Lumpur.

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